Vice mayor, NAACP respond to Norfolk K-9 policy review

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — From city officials to member of the community, many have had strong reactions to a Norfolk State University student being attacked by a police K-9.

Norfolk Police Chief Mike Goldsmith said on Thursday the use of force on NSU junior London Colvin was “unreasonable.” He said the incident has prompted a review of K-9 policy within the Norfolk Police Department.

Vice Mayor Angelia Williams said Norfolk City Council will not sit back and let the case involving Colvin pass. Williams expects to be briefed on policy and disciplinary action by Goldsmith at the next council meeting.

Williams said she did not learn of the incident until Tuesday night. She said someone emailed her, and at first she didn’t believe it was an event that happened in Norfolk. Then on Wednesday, she started receiving calls from concerned citizens. Williams said, given the incident was out of the ordinary, she would have liked to hear about it right after the attack happened.

City spokeswoman Lori Crouch said City Manager Marcus Jones was also made aware of the incident on Tuesday. Crouch said police were reviewing the case and Jones wouldn’t ordinarily be briefed on police matters.

Williams’ said there are good police officers in Norfolk, and many know that. But she said there was a “lapse in judgement” that happened when the K-9 was used to injure Colvin.

“We’re supposed to be better than that,” Williams said of the attack. “It’s 2015.”

Colvin was leaving a house party early Sunday morning when she was approached by officers. Police were called to the area for a fight and tried questioning the college student.

Witnesses told Colvin refused to answer police questions. Friends and family members stated Colvin is in the Army and the 21-year-old didn’t want to get in any trouble. At some point, she ended up on the ground and the police K-9 attacked her.

Williams said, whether it’s policy or training, something needs to happen to ensure officers are handling situations like this properly.

“We may need to go back and train and re-train those who are utilizing K-9s,” she said.

“The Norfolk NAACP wants to get this issue behind us,” said Rick James, the Norfolk NAACP’s Legal Chair.

The Norfolk branch of the NAACP is investigating whether excessive force was used. James and NAACP President Joe Dillard met with Goldsmith Thursday afternoon.

“The actions were unreasonable of the officer,” James said. “We agree with the chief on that.”

James added, he believes disciplinary action and a policy review are steps in the right direction. However, he said more steps need to be taken in the coming days. James said Goldsmith has agreed to keep the NAACP informed on what happens next.

“We had a long conversation with the chief about everything that’s at stake here, from the city’s standpoint, from the police department’s standpoint, and from the citizen’s of standpoint.”

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